Activist slams Russian anti-homosexuality bill

By the Associated Press | November 17, 2011 | 5:20 AM EST

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's top gay rights activist has condemned a bill passed in Russia's second largest city that prohibits "propaganda of homosexuality" to minors, warning it could be used to ban gay rallies.

Nikolai Alexeyev of the group said Thursday the legislation tentatively approved by lawmakers in St. Petersburg is a "shame."

The bill passed Wednesday by a 27 to 1 vote, with one abstention, in the first of three required readings, calls for a fine of up $100 for "public actions aimed at propaganda of pederasty, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors."

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay feelings remain strong and attempts to hold gay rallies by Alexeyev's group have been thwarted by police and the Orthodox Church.